Oh, the pre-Internet world. The choices were few, the hair was majestic, and the kid on the street who was lucky enough to have an NES was the neighborhood's ultimate badass. When that issue of GamePro or Electronic Gaming Monthly showed up, it was like a little bit of Christmas in your mailbox every month. You'd get your reviews and previews and what not, but it was all about those glorious ads. Page after page of larger-than-life, totally radical imagery depicted some bodacious new stuff coming out, so you'd better go get a paper route or have rich parents.
Acid wash jeans? Check. Hat with neon so tubular it can be seen from space? Check. Nintendo Power? Hell yes. There is so much legitimacy going on here that I can guarantee this kid had to shove at least a dozen friends out of the frame so they could make this snapshot happen. The kid's totally bitching mullet is the finishing touch on the onslaught of awesome that his life is, and you may have had to pretend to not be jealous. I'm putting on the same act to this day.
This ad. I busted out laughing when I turned the page to it. I remember it clearly. In the sequence of visuals presented by your monthly magazine of choice, this ad represented what I loved so much about gaming culture as a kid. Looking at it now, I have no idea why he's projecting a fountain of milk snot from his nostrils. I'm now curious if someone could be slick enough with photo editing in those days to "photoshop" out whatever else shot out of his nose besides milk.
Raiden and Kano, two grown adults, are about to shake you down for your lunch money. Or yank you into the fictional and deadly world of Mortal Kombat. Possibly both. When I used to steal quarters from my mom's coin jar at the house and hop the bus to go play this at age 12, the photo-realism of the graphics had me hooked like Scorpion's kunai. The joke would've been on these chumps if I was one of these kids though, as they would've only got 75 cents.
Since we're on the subject of Mortal Kombat: WHY, Johnny Cage, WHY?! Yes, it's actually actor Daniel Pesina, who probably saw a trend coming on and made a choice based on that at the time, but still! BloodStorm? So many games had jumped on the blood flood of 90's shock. Did no one sense that the gimmick would play out? In any case, did BloodStorm look rad at the time? Maybe! Did all of the arcades in my area have a reason for never ordering one in? Maybe!
Whether you were a city boy or girl, born and/or raised in South Detroit, you could've taken the midnight train going anywhere with America's hottest bad boys of rock, Journey. If the soundtrack would've come with anything but chiptune renditions of bad boy ballads like "Faithfully" and the hype-inducing but simultaneously depressing "Separate Ways", then I would've recommended holding on to that feeling as well as your cash.
Now to something that is guaranteed to rock: Contra! I honestly had no clue there was ever an arcade version in these days when Konami wasn't responsible for taking away P.T. and removing Kojima's name from the final installment of Metal Gear. This model has hair that says she's down to rock out, but is also sporting a knife and grenade that says she's here to kick multiple asses. Is she inviting you to play this arcade machine or is she protecting it?
My non-gamer friends may have wondered why I had this hanging in my locker in junior high. This was hilarious in my mind as a teenager, as I thought my generation of kids were experiencing the very apex of graphical achievements with my 16-Bit Super Nintendo. "Look at Mr. Rogers over here, thinking he's the shit with his Intellivision that I've never even heard of! Ha!" The reality is I had no clue how cocky my outlook on games technology was, that Intellivision probably was indeed the cat's pajamas in its day, and that I had no concept of how much more advanced everything would get in the very near future. In fact, I had no idea that soon I would be playing this next one:
Hey now, Earth has had a reputation of being pretty dang violent over the years! What a bold statement and how dare they! As one of DOOM's very first ads, it's clear to see they knew what they were selling and boy did they ever. Vicious assassins! Satanic demons! Fire-breathing monsters! On the Atari Jaguar, you say? When comparing the numbers, 64-Bit had a lot of impact. "Fudge yes," I would've said, secretly knowing what word I REALLY wanted to use.
The Sega 32X! I never saw one outside of a retail shelf, but hot damn what an add-on! You have to love his Mom's answer, "They're making an arcade system, dear." That usually implied that it would be way more awesome than a console. I'll explain: there once was a time when the arcades acted sort of like the movie theater, getting all the good stuff before you could ever purchase it for playing at home. And then after the game started getting less quarters pumped into it, they would release a console port of the arcade game that was never quite as good. The solution? The 32X! I would've liked Mortal Kombat on this thing because not only was the SNES version inferior on a technical standpoint, It had sweat instead of blood. Sweat. Instead of blood.
Ranking in at #1 by a team of highly educated scientists, this image is what inspired me to compile this list to begin with. I have no idea what's happening here. All I can guess is Dad or Uncle Larry or whoever he is might be tanked at the family Christmas party, and something seriously hilarious is flying right over the kid's heads. Likely it was an off-color joke that they got away with. Is he experiencing utter euphoria with the fact that he finally made the right decision with his purchase, and he's just a good dad trying to make his kids happy? Is he cry-laughing at how much of a chunk this took out of the monthly budget? I have so many questions. Too many questions!